What is Geofencing and How to Use It

What is Geofencing and How to Use It

by Mike Ricotta - July 16, 2019

Whether you know what is geofencing exactly or not, by now most of us have experienced getting a geo-specific ad on our mobile device. This happens after you walk by or into a store and then start to see ads or get notifications related to that store. This is done by using your location to show you an ad for a store that is geographically (geo) close to you. Marketers have found all sorts of ways to use a device’s location to display extremely specific and targeted advertisements, ultimately boosting click-through rates and conversions. Continue reading to learn more about Geofencing and some examples of how you can use it in an upcoming campaign.

Brief Overview: What is Geofencing and How Does it Work?

Geofencing (also Geotargeting) is using a location-based form of digital advertising. Where you once needed to put up a huge billboard or rent a plane to get an ad in front of customers in a specific location, you can now use a device’s location to show it a specific ad. A device’s location can come from different channels, including: global positioning (GPS), Wi-Fi, cellular data, radio frequency identification (RFID), or satellite.

How To Use It

Here are some examples of how organizations are using geofencing to help drive traffic to their store, website, or contact forms.

  • The example we brought up in the intro is likely the one people are most familiar with. A store using its location to show ads or give incentives to passersby. In this case, a store owner has just used the store’s address (and maybe a quarter-mile radius around it) as a geofence. Once a device, and its holder, are located inside the fence it will trigger a notification or an ad to be shown.
  • Another great example is using an event as a geofence. Let’s say there is an upcoming conference that would be a perfect place to engage with your customers, but the booth price is too high. Instead of spending all your time, effort, and money on a booth at the conference you can create a geofence around the venue. Using this venue as a geofence you can create conference-specific ads to show attendees.
  • The last example is to poach sales, a popular strategy in the automotive industry. If you’ve recently visited a car dealership, let’s say Chevy, you may have noticed ads for other car dealerships. That’s because car dealerships will geofence the other dealerships and send ads to recent visitors of that dealership. Hopefully enticing a car shopper to their own dealership.

What is Geofencing and What are the Popular Platforms Offering It?

Now that you know all about geofencing and have some good ideas on how you can use it for your business, you need to know what platforms will allow you to use location-based advertising. The 3 biggest platforms our Google, Facebook, and Snapchat. Each of these platforms allows advertisers to use a device’s location to show targeted ads. 

In Google Ads, geofencing is called Location Targeting. Google has set up some helpful tools for geofencing as well; multiple locations, excluding, zip codes, and estimated reach in that area. For Facebook, it is much of the same as Google. Using pins or address you can include or exclude areas on a map. 

Snapchat is a bit different in how your “fences” can look like and the types of ads you can show. With Snapchat you can create different shaped fences. Unlike Google and Facebook’s radius fences, you can create any shape you want. Also, Snapchat uses both ads and filters based on your location. Creating a custom filter is a unique way advertisers are getting people to interact with their ads.

Wrapping It Up

Geofencing can be an effective way to target customers based on their current location. You can target them when they are close to your store or if there is going to be a high concentration of them at an event. Popular advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, and Snapchat have built robust and easy to use systems to create geofences for your business.